Indeed it’s sad when a good warrior and captain such as Saku Koivu is finished as a Montreal Canadien and will carry on elsewhere. We all loved and appreciated what he did for the team and city as a great player and a man who gave his time and money to hospitals and sick kids and other organizations.
But I have to take a hard-nosed approach here. Except when I was a kid and idolized the Rocket and Harvey and Beliveau and the rest, I’ve always gone for the bottom line, which is winning. I got used to hockey being strictly a business a long time ago, and realized that seldom will you see anyone remain with one club for an entire career. Players come and go, and that’s fine. The main thing is the team. A winning team. And if the team wins, you’ll love the new players.
You can criticize Bob Gainey all you want for landing small, skilled players, and for not re-signing others. But you would’ve been even more upset if Gainey had sat still and changed very little. Did you like the team last year? I didn’t. They barely made the playoffs, and were quickly and embarrassingly shoved aside by the Boston Bruins. Montreal was not a team to scare anyone, and changes, even unpopular ones, were crucial.
Do you know exactly what has transpired behind the scenes? Was there a divided dressing room, as we heard from time to time? Did Koivu actually want out of Montreal, possibly to join his brother in Minnesota? And I know you’ll wince on this one, but Koivu, in the last year or two, became quite mediocre on the ice, and good man or not, he wasn’t helping the team a great deal.
It’s all about winning. It’s the team as a whole. If the Canadiens can win the Stanley Cup with twenty guys like Sean Avery or Jarkko Ruutu for example, then I’m happy. This club was going nowhere fast, once again. And going nowhere every year gets old. Aren’t you tired of that?
I want a great team back, so if Koivu or Alex Kovalev or anyone else isn’t re-signed and is an unpopular decision, then so be it. It’s time for a big change. Time to try something different.